"On February 25, 1946, African Americans in Columbia, Tennessee, averted the lynching of James Stephenson, a nineteen-year-old, black Navy veteran who had fought with a white Army veteran and radio repairman at a local department store. That night, after Stephenson was safely out of town, four of Columbia's police officers were shot and wounded when they tried to enter the town's black business district. The next morning, the Tennessee Highway Patrol invaded the district, wrecking establishments and beating men as they arrested them." "Drawing on extensive oral history interviews and a rich array of written records - including federal grand jury records acquired through a court order, a trial transcript thought not to exist, and a transcript of the interrogation of two black suspects just before they were killed in jail - Gail Williams O'Brien tells the dramatic story of the Columbia "race riot" and the events that followed." "O'Brien sees the Columbia events as emblematic of the shift in emphasis during the 1940s from racially motivated mob violence, prevalent for decades in the American South, to increased confrontations between African Americans and the criminal justice system, a nationwide phenomenon."--Jacket.